‘Ripley’ shows talent for bow

Post-screening party underlined with sub-text

At Sunday’s preem of “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” one British veteran of both glamour and fame said Anthony Minghella’s tale of golden preppies in 1950s la dolce vita Italy reminded her of “Tony Richardson’s in St. Tropez. He’d have these huge parties with the most beautiful people. But there was always something going on behind the scenes.”

“Ripley” had a huge post-screening party at the Armand Hammer Museum with beautiful people and a jazz band playing in the courtyard. But there was more talk than intrigue behind the scenes.

Minghella said he stressed two aspects in the filmmaking: not to judge the characters and “to invest in Italy.” The helmer mentioned how one gorgeous seaside location is near Mount Etna and how he wanted the film, “to have this ravishing surface but the feeling that at any moment it could erupt.”

As for the elements that could erupt, star Cate Blanchett said she was attracted to the film because Patricia Highsmith’s novel “is so amoral. She writes with a scalpel. She’s so caustic and cutting and unforgiving and sinister. Everything is sub-text.”

And as the embodiment of sinister, star Matt Damon said defining his charming character was “a tightrope walk. Anthony’s mantra was ‘if Ripley loses the audience, the film folds.’ ”

Those on hand to see the film not fold but blossom were Paramount’s Sherry Lansing, Jonathan Dolgen and Rob Friedman; Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein, Mark Gill and Meryl Poster; stars Damon with Winona Ryder, Blanchett and Jude Law; plus 1,000 guests including Ben Affleck, Lawrence Bender, Scott Berg, Karl Austen, Albert Berger, John Burnham, Chris Fenton, Sid Ganis, Rob Lowe, Julianna Margulies, Kate Moss, Neal Moritz and Kevin Spacey.

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